Zain


We have discussed different Arab initiatives to reach Europe through cross-border terrestrial optical fiber links. Now Vodafone’s Qatar unit, du of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait’s Zain along with the country’s ISP named Zajil have formed another consortium – Middle East-Europe Terrestrial System (MEETS). And optical power ground wire (OPGW) will be the vehicle during initial leg of its long distance terrestrial telecoms journey to Europe. MEETS has rented 1,400-km OPGW from the  power transmission grid of Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) interconnection authority for 15 years. The consortium will invest US$36 million to primarily inject 2300 Gbps capacity using 100G optical transport network (OTN) technology.
It’s been several years since we publicized the Zain innovation that brought down roaming prices in East Africa. No one picked up the inelegant workaround. Until now, when Airtel has sort of started the process. Indians traveling to Sri Lanka or Bangladesh will have one thing less to worry about. Airtel, which has operations in these two countries as well, has announced a new tariff for its customers in India, under which they will be able to make local calls in the country at Rs 1, while calling back home will cost them Rs 10.
The shoe is yet to drop in terms of South-Asia-like retail prices, but Bharti is beginning to move out its famed outsourcing model to Africa. The story emphasizes IBM, but one has to be understanding of the US-centric NYT. I.B.M.
In the end, it comes down to the Budget Telecom Network Model. The recent Bharti 10.7 billion USD offer for Zain has depressed share prices and generated a big debate. But it really boils down to this: The trick for Bharti, which pioneered low-cost telecoms in India, will be to bring down Zain’s high cost base and win subscribers, say analysts — and to get subscribers to talk more using lower tariffs. Bharti is famous for its so-called “minutes factory” business plan — the low-cost, high-volume model that has made it India’s leading mobile company.
One way business models and innovations travel is through mergers and acquisitions. We have been waiting to see more African consumers benefit from the low prices and greater connectivity afforded by the Budget Telecom Network Model. Finally it looks like a big Indian telecom operator has got a foothold in Africa, with the transfer of Zain equity in a number of African countries to Bharti Airtel. Zain has fared badly in Africa along with other Middle Eastern operators perhaps because their home turf has been heavily regulated. Most acted as comfortable monopolists until only recently.
When we asked the people of Jaffna what good came of the ceasefire of 2002-05, they said phones and the opening of the road connecting them to the rest of Sri Lanka. Looks like the Iraqis are similar. I love my mobile like a baby, says on Iraqi mother. De facto m-payments are also significant, though there are some problems, according to the Economist. Criminal rings are among the parallel currency’s busiest users.